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REVIEW: The Brink of a Genre, Worth Exploring

Stretching The Edges of a Genre

Brink was developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC. It was directed by Paul Wedgewood, Richard Ham, Olivier Leonardi, Chris Sweetman, Arnout van Meer, Richard Jolly and Stephen Gaffney. The Xbox360 copy was played for the purpose of this review following the day one patch released from developer Splash Damage.

Innovation rarely produces perfection, but it always brings something new to the table. Something on the brink of existing standards, stretching old rules with the new ideas it brings forward. Flipping on Brink for the first time, and watching it’s lengthy tutorial videos (10-30 minutes), you get the immediate sense that you are playing an ambitious shooter. Four classes, directly interdependent with one another, three distinct body types, and a plethora of weapons and abilities help shape the battlefield of Brink in a way that is rarely seen in this generation’s “run ‘n’ gun, lone-wolf” brand of first-person shooters. Brink’s team centric, objective-based battles are laden with a variety of fun opportunities, but they are also fraught with technical issues that will leave those with slow internet connections as well as eye-candy junkies disappointed. Visual issues frequently result in constant texture pop-in and online lag often interrupts the fast-paced flow of combat. Problems with the bot’s artificial intelligence in Brink can also be downright infuriating. There, is without a doubt, mountains of lasting fun to be had with Brink, however with all it’s innovation aside, it falls short of perfection.

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Check out Brink’s Intro As Well as New Security Gameplay

Two videos for your viewing pleasure; first, the intro to the game–accented narrator and all. Second, a video that showcases some new gameplay from the Security portion of the storyline. Both are new!

Interesting tidbit from the intro video: the Resistance is trying to escape. That…makes things interesting. Why wouldn’t Security allow people to leave? Wouldn’t that help out the situation–given that resources are scarce?

UPDATED A Detailing of Brink’s Abilities for Soldier, Engineer, Medic and Operative

Good news everyone! You don’t have to wait until Brink’s release on Tuesday to start planning out your builds. We’ve taken the time to document all the abilities shown in this video, including not only all the general abilities, but also all the abilities available for soldier, engineer and medic; UPDATE, we just found all the operative abilities, too.

So then! Let’s take a look, shall we? This way you won’t have to pause every 3 seconds to read through what’s being shown. Or wade through the uninteresting bits of the video.

Universal Abilities

  • Grenade Shooting: Where you can shoot your frags in the air; this ability allows tighter control over when and where the grenades go off.
  • Combat Intuition: informs you of when an enemy who is not on your radar has you in their crosshairs.
  • Sense of Perspective: go into third person while attempting to perform objectives like building/repairing and capturing points. You won’t be able to move, but you’ll be able to see from all angles.
  • Downed fire: exactly what it sounds like. Shoot while down with your secondary weapon.
  • Resupply rate: faster cooldown on your supply meter, can mean a difference of seconds.
  • Sprinting Grenade: you can cook grenades midsprint.
  • Battle hardened: permanent increase of health.
  • Supply Max Increase: supply meter increase of one pip: meaning, you get to use one more special ability than usual (which is makes it four instead of three)
  • Sprinting Reload: exactly what it sounds like.
  • Silent running: also exactly what it sounds like! Makes you ‘invisible’ to enemy radar until you are in close.

Hit the jump for the class-specific abilities.

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A Preview of The Available Abilities in Brink

Behold! A small taste of the (seemingly) vast number of abilities available to unlock in Brink, the class-based shooter slated to drop on May 17th. It’s got molotov cocktails, imma-hack-into-da-turret-now, and the perhaps broken “Oh, did you kill me? I’m just gonna…revive myself now” as abilities. Like Black Ops, it seems that abilities change your appearance. This being the case, the number of options in appearance will be ridiculous.

Normally, this might be grounds for a compliment, but I can’t help but have Matthew Burns’ ‘Why We Don’t Have Female Characters’ in the back of my mind (as some of you might know, there are no female characters in the game, and the developers have excused it by stating that it was a choice between deep customization options or half-assed male-female options). A snippet, though you can read the rest of the satirical post here,

“Well, it’s hard to make female characters. First of all, in order to accommodate female characters in our pipeline, you’d basically need to re-code the entire engine from the ground up. Because the technology we have today just wasn’t built to be able to handle stuff like that. I’m thinking about it now and I have no idea how you’d even start making those kind of changes in our low-level architecture. The implications to our engine are just all over the place– the threading system, the frame buffer…

Then there’s the art aspect. Can anyone say they really know what a woman looks like? I mean we all have ideas. But we’ve tried them and they don’t work. Women are difficult to model because they have– they’re sort of put together– well, let me put it this way: male bone structure is mostly made up of ninety-degree angles. Right? Maybe a couple forty-fives here and there. But it’s simple, and that makes it easy. I guess I shouldn’t say “easy,” but I mean more straightforward.

Female bone structure, on the other hand, is extremely complicated. There are, like, n-gons and inverted matrices in there and everything.”

Medal of Honor is a “Creative Risk” From Which EA Will Not Back Down Despite Media Criticism

Frank Gibeau, president of EA Games, told Develop that what they are doing with Medal of Honor is tied to creative vision. “We respect the media’s views,” he said, “but at the same time [these reports] don’t compromise our creative vision and what we want to do.”

More than creative vision–art!

“At EA we passionately believe games are an artform, and I don’t know why films and books set in Afghanistan don’t get flack, yet [games] do. Whether it’s Red Badge Of Courage or The Hurt Locker, the media of its time can be a platform for the people who wish to tell their stories. Games are becoming that platform.”

Hmm. I was under the impression that art provoked critical thought of some sort? How can you claim to produce art when you can also say that you don’t intend to push too hard? Now, I know what you’re thinking. Patricia, that’s a quote from DICE, and they’re just handling the multiplayer aspect. So what? They are still speaking on behalf of the game, but more importantly, we already know that games with multiplayer components do not have to suffer a complete dichotomy from the single-player. Brink has taught us that multiplayer can be completely purposeful and integrated into the main game: hell, there’s no dichotomy between the two modes, there. Am I to believe that EA wanted to give such justice to the subject that they’re fine with providing us a mindless game mode, which only exists to satiate new consumer demands for online multiplayer? There’s really no excuse for it.

So, then, is it any surprise that they’re proud of what they’re doing? “The development teams care very much about what they’re building, and of course a bit of criticism from the media causes some to get demoralised, but at the end of the day we’re proud of what we’re doing. Brining Medal of Honor back was no small feat.”

And why brave all the criticism for this game? Because they want you to see “what it was like to be in a soldier’s position.” Because that experience is completely transferable in an entertainment medium, right?

Brink Devs Hope They Have ‘Really Nailed Controls’

And, in an attempt to perfect those controls, they’ve gone through about 5 different prototypes of the SMART system. This would also explain why so much effort was put into making sure that all versions of the release have a tight control scheme.

Not surprisingly, then, Splash Damage has had to approach designing levels in a completely new way: anything and everything can be potentially reached or vaulted over. This means that every piece of architecture must be designed not only with aesthetic integrity, but also lend itself for unique dynamics which can be derived from the SMART system. There can’t be any purposeless architecture that’s there just to look pretty.

Aside from this, make sure to take a look at the newly released Brink screenshots, of one which you can see above!

Richard Ham Talks Multiplayer/Co-op in Brink

Creative Director Richard Ham talks about how the single player, 8 co-op and versus in Brink are seamless, how there’s no difference between your online character and your in-story character, and he goes briefly over the high-level of customization available in Brink. Definitely interesting to think within the context of other games in the genre, where the skills needed to succeed in single player versus the skills needed to succeed in multiplayer are vastly different. You could be decent in single player, but then jump into the multiplayer and get your ass handed to you within seconds. That’s not the case with Brink, since they’re one and the same.

Watch 8 Minutes of Brink Footage

No narrator, no Splash Damage telling the person recording what to do. Just the game. Here, we can see the customization screens in action, as well as various other mechanics, the objective system, and well as some minimal parkour.  Gotta say, the user interface and its icons are some of the best I’ve seen in a video game yet.


Richard Ham on Brink’s Customization, Other Info

inBrink has a new interview with Richard Ham, the creative director behind Brink, which you can read in full here. But, if you’re just interested in the details, fear not, brave traveller of the internet! We braved the wilds and cheated death itself, all in the name of bringing details to you. And that, my friends, is what I call love.

There will be 24 different guns in the game, including “pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, heavy machine guns, and grenade launchers.” These guns are available to both the Resistance and Security, but they will have cosmetic changes denoting which side you are on. “For Security, the guns are pristine, in perfect condition, shiny, new and beautiful. When you’re playing as Resistance, it’s covered with cool graffiti and awash with colour.” Which is to say, if you’re affiliated with Raven over at MAG, like I was, then you’ll probably want to play as Security because then you’ll have all the pretty guns. Aside from this, we already know that the guns have a variety of different attachments that you can unlock, including “scopes, muzzles brakes, and extended magazines.”

Like Medal of Honor, the focus is on “intense, in-your-face infantry combat,” so there will be no vehicles for you to commandeer (unlike Medal of Honor).

Brink will also allow players to approach the game in any order they want. Richard says that “when you buy it, we’re not going to try to stop you from turning to the last page and seeing how the story ends. We’ll present it to you in the proper order, but if you want to skip a chapter, or play in any order you like, go right ahead. Our story is written such that you can jump in at any point and understand what you need to know.” Lack of linearity in a shooter? By Jove, the world’s gone mad! Of course, all of this makes sense: you can’t make the story and the online component exactly the same unless you’re going to allow players who are at completely different stages in the story, to play together anyway. This explains why Ham says that if you lose while playing online “you’ll just move on to the next map in the rotation – much like you’d expect from any other multiplayer game.”

Stay tuned as we bring you more details about Brink!

Paul Wedgwood Talks Brink

Gametrailers has 8 minutes of Brink footage narrated by Brink’s Game director, Paul Wedgwood. Fortunately, you don’t have to go over there to learn all the cool new details revealed in the video…we’ve even got screenshots for your viewing pleasure!

This is the character selection screen. You can house up to 16 players on Brink, each of which can be completely unique.

Helping you create unique characters are cosmetic changes to your appearance–like clothes, facial features, make up, headwear…all sorts of stuff. You can see the appearance menu here:

Click on past the jump to see/read about abilities, buffs and weapon customization!

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